Richard Hutchins was once an accomplished artist who won art shows and painted for the likes of Muhammad Ali and Richard Pryor. However, things turned sour for him when his studio got burned down and rendered him homeless on the streets of Los Angeles.
Luck smiled on the once renowned Hutchins when he encountered a former music manager, athlete, and philanthropist, Charlie Rocket. Rocket runs The Dream Machine Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to making dreams come true.
“I went into Target, and I’ve never seen Target closed before, Walmart, Target, they’re just always open. So I was like, you know what, let’s go over to Ralphs, we pull up to Ralphs, and this guy is sitting on a shopping cart with amazing energy. [Richard] said, ‘Nephew, I like your car, let me drive it,” Rocket recalled.
The two discussed Hutchins’ predicament after being homeless for six years. Rocket saw their encounter as a good opportunity to reach out to someone in need. According to him, Hutchins’ works inspired him to reach out to him in order to make his ‘simple’ dream come through.
“He started telling us his story about how he used to be a world-famous artist like he would win art shows and he painted for Muhammad Ali and you know Richard Pryor and all these different people have his art,” Rocket shared on TMZ Live. “He just started showing us his art and that’s what inspired us to make Richard’s dream come true because his dream was simple, ‘I just want people to be inspired by my work.’”
One of the plans Rocket devised to help Hutchins was to help him sell his artwork. He did so online and subsequently launched a website for him. He also encouraged people to buy Hutchins’ paintings to get him off the street.
After the launch of the website, Hutchins made more than $50,000 in sales in just a day. After the cause went viral, Rocket organized a gallery show for Hutchins with hundreds showing up, including entrepreneur Damon Dash.
“Hey guys, five days ago I was homeless. What I didn’t do, I didn’t give up my dream. I didn’t lose hope. My spirit wasn’t broken. This night is not for me. It’s for every homeless person or homeless artist that is left on the street out there. This is for them. And I promise you to this end, I’ll pay it forward!” Hutchins told the crowd on the red carpet before the event.
At the event, Hutchins sold one of his paintings for $23,000. Rapper 2 Chainz, Rocket’s former artist, also purchased a piece of Hutchins’ paintings. Also, Steve Harvey bought one for $3,000 while Oprah Winfrey purchased one of the paintings for $5,000.
“I saw some of your beautiful art and I said ‘I have to get one of those paintings,’” Winfrey told Hutchins.
Since going viral, Hutchins has had several offers for a movie role as an artist.